Where is creativity in the current educational policies

As a staunch believer of creativity in its own right and not just as a function to boost attainment,  I do recognise however that creativity is often justified in schools primarily due to a perception of having a positive impact on attainment (Claxton et al, 2011; Ofsted 2010). I also believe in the importance of creativity across the curriculum and not just siloed within arts and humanities.

In my opinion creativity should be fostered throughout education, across phases and curricular, not least because a range of reports and studies  indicate that creativity is one of the desired attributes deemed necessary for success in the 21st century (Trilling & Hood, 1999; Partnership for 21st Century Skills, 2008; DCSF 2009; CBI 2012). These reports are supported by academics studying creativity in education stating that developing creative competence helps to prepare for an uncertain future(Beghetto, 2010; Stenberg 2012) .

Education and schools have a responsibility to equip their students for their futures and it is therefore logical to presume that education should have a role in supporting learners in developing their creativity.  Indeed in the UK during the last decade, creativity in education was endorsed to some extent through government funded projects such as Creative Partnerships. The change of government however has seen the funding for these projects on the whole withdrawn. Since being elected, the Secretary of State for Education has introduced a number of changes to the education system including a new national curriculum, which has just completed its consultation process, to be implemented by September 2014.  The stated aims of this mentions creativity only in terms of helping children to ‘…engender an appreciation of human creativity and achievement’ (DfE 2013 p6) . However it goes on to make it clear that they believe that there is time within the school day to include content and activities not prescribed by the National Curriculum and by stating ‘…[National Curriculum] provides an outline of core knowledge around which teachers can develop exciting and stimulating lessons’ indicate that the style of delivery is for the schools to develop. In addition Ofsted, the body that inspects and grades educational institutions and consequently greatly influences school activity, have recently updated the framework for inspection implemented from September 2012 making no mention at all of creativity. This is in stark contrast to the Ofsted report ‘Learning: creative approaches that raise standardspublished a few months prior to the election of the current government in 2010 where creativity in education is seen as a highly desirable attribute (Ofsted 2010). 

There have been numerous responses to the draft national curriculum with a range of individuals expressing their views; many lamenting the apparent return to a content driven curriculum that harks back to the 1950’s with little space for the development of skills and attributes such as creativity (Waddle et al, 2012). The aims stated in the draft document along with some commentators however indicate there is scope for schools and teachers to include creativity in their delivery. It is worth also keeping in mind that Academies and Free schools, which constitute 54% of state funded schools, are excluded from the national curriculum and consequently can choose their programme of study however they are most likely to use the new National Curriculum as a guide; they are also likely to engage with the standard national exam systems. They will arguably be influenced by the views of the parents who are likely to see value in an education that mirrors there own. I suspect that all these factors this would mean that they are unlikely to develop a system that nurtures creativity …nor collaboration … critical think or any of the other 21st Century skills.

I strongly feel that teachers have an opportunity to use those ‘spaces’  to teach for creativity, many already do.

Beghetto R. (2010) Creativity in the classroom. In: Kaufman C and Sternberg RJ (eds) Handbook of creativity. Cambridge Cambridge University Press.

CBI. (2012) First steps: a new approach for our schools CBI.

Claxton G, Chambers M, Powell G, et al. (2011) The learning powered school Bristol: TLO.

 DCSF. (2009) Your child, your schools, our future: building a 21st century school system In: families Dfcsa (ed).
DfE. (2013) The National Curriculum in England Framework document for consultation In: Education

Ofsted. (2010) Learning: creative approaches that raise standards. Manchester UK

Partenership for 21st Century Skills. (2008) 21st century skills, education and competitiveness Tucson AZ: Partenership for 21st Century Skills.

Sternberg RJ. (2012) The Assessment of Creativity: An Investment-Based Approach. Creativity Research Journal 24: 3-12.

Trilling B and Hood P. (1999) Learning, Technology, and Education Reform in the Knowledge Age  or ‘We’re Wired, Webbed, and Windowed, Now What’. Educational Technology May/June

Waddle J, Peck D, Bousted DM, et al. (2012) What do you think of Michael Gove’s national curriculum? The Guardian 

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